Funding Software Carpentry Workshops

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Software Carpentry workshops are taught by volunteers, but hosts need to fund instructor travel, accommodation as well as our administrative fees of $750-$1250. While these costs are low, it can sometimes be a challenge to get funding for your first workshop, especially if others are unfamiliar with SWC. Here are some successful strategies that hosts have used to fund workshops:

  • Faculty and department grants: Most workshops are funded by small miscellaneous travel or seminar funds administered by individual faculty members and departments.

  • Training grants: Institutions or departments often have training grants that are relatively flexible. These are an excellent source of funds, as SWC workshops often fulfill their mandate to provide extra-curricular training. Find the gatekeepers of these grants at your institution. One possible angle is to fund the SWC through the Responsible Conduct of Research training requirement of many such grants.

  • Get outside the department: Centers, institutes, and other organizations besides academic departments are often more flexible with funds. Anything with computational/data science / translational science / interdisciplinary science in its mission is a likely target. Organizers have also had success working with libraries, graduate student/postdoc unions, and many other non-departmental groups.

  • Share costs: If you can demonstrate interest from one department, you can approach others for matching funds. Remember that you can fill part of the budget with small workshop fees of $20-$40 (This also reduces the number of no-shows from 20-25% to about 5%.)

  • Move up the food chain: Deans and higher-ups in the university control more money than department heads. After a couple of no answers at the department or center level, it makes sense to approach the dean of your college or graduate school. When working with deans, it's useful to have a faculty ally.

  • Organize as a group: You'll often have greater success appealing for funds as an organized group of students (and ideally faculty) than as an individual.

  • External funding: It's a slower process getting external funding, but you can write SWC training explicitly into future grants. Some external groups funders (such as Oak Ridge Affiliated Universities) have explicit small money pots for small events.

Other notes:

  • Make sure you have a well-estimated budget, and ask for the high-end estimate. You don't want to have to go back for for more after realizing that you underestimated costs.

  • Don't ask for recurring funds the first time you fund a workshop, but be sure to collect information from the workshop to make the case for future workshops. This can include feedback from participants via in-workshop post-its, post-workshop surveys, and attendance figures, including what departments/groups attendees came from.

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